NCAA Basketball

Tracking Transfer in Division I Men’s Basketball

National data indicates that many of today’s college graduates transfer at some point on their way to a degree.  This is true among student-athletes, as well, and may be most visible in Division I men’s basketball. Tracking movement from school to school for research purposes can be difficult, but recent NCAA studies have done just that and uncovered some interesting findings:

  • The rate of transfer between four-year colleges in Division I men’s basketball is high relative to most other sports, but not the highest (see tables in full report).
  • The percentage of 4-4 transfers (those who transfer from one four-year institution to another) on Division I men’s basketball squads increased in 2018 and 2019 (blue line in Figure 1), while the rate of two-year college transfers in men’s basketball has remained relatively flat (red line).
  • That said, about 40% of all men’s basketball players who enter Division I directly out of high school depart their initial school by the end of their sophomore year.

Where do these transfers end up? Transfers were identified by merging the 2020 Division I Basketball Transfers list from the Verbal Commits website with all Division I men’s basketball student-athletes listed in the 2019-20 Transfer Portal. Of the scholarship players on the list, 648 were identified as transferring to another school and joining the basketball team. In 2020, 63% of the transfers went to another Division I school, which was an increase from 2019 (54%). The percentage transferring to Division II remained near 25%, while those leaving for non-NCAA colleges (two-year colleges or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools) declined to their lowest levels since we began tracking transfers (Figure 2). Similar to years past, 1 in 10 “up-transferred” to a more competitive program.

NCAA GOALS survey data finds close to 90% of all men’s basketball transfers say they leave for athletic reasons. Absent proper academic planning, many of these student-athletes lose credits upon transfer and register lower Academic Progress Rates and graduation rates at their new schools than seen among nontransfers


PowerPoint describing methods and data in more detail.

Download a PDF copy of this Extra Point: Tracking Transfer in Division I Men’s Basketball

(Published Feb. 2021)

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